XBLIG Uprising Developer Interview: Tricktale Games – developer of Diehard Dungeon

As part of our ongoing coverage of the Indie Game Uprising III we asked Tricktale Games to tell us a bit about themselves and their upcoming game, Diehard Dungeon (read our PREVIEW of the game HERE).  Toby Land was kind enough to take the time to tell us about his studio’s game and his career as a developer.  The full interview can be found in its entirety below.  Enjoy, and of course a big thanks to Toby/Tricktale Games for taking the time to answer our questions.

First, tell the readers a bit about yourself: what is your history as a game developer, previous efforts, why you decided to start getting involved in making games?

My name is Toby Land and I’m the founder and sole developer at Tricktale. Tricktale was founded 4 years ago, but I’ve been creating games as a hobby for about 15 years.

Tricktale was originally a partnership, but dissolved before the development of Diehard Dungeon began.

I’ve released three games to date; Pyromanic – Solo and Vampire Rage on XBLIG, and Vampire Rage for Windows Phone 7.

Ever since owning a ZX Spectrum as a kid, I’ve been fascinated by games and knew right away that this was what I wanted to do when I “grew up”. I love what I do and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. The positive comments I receive from gamers that have played my games is what really motivates me to continue doing what I do best; make games.

How would you describe your game in a sentence? What do you feel makes your game special or unique?

The easiest way to describe Diehard Dungeon would be; The Legend of Zelda meets a Roguelike.

I’ve tried to recapture the retro look and feel of a nineties game, but with modern effects and a lot more going happening on screen. I feel that the final concoction is something fairly unique.

If you had to pick one specific game to describe as your inspiration (for this game or in general), what would it be?

I’ve been inspired by many, many games, but most significantly, The Legend of Zelda series, specifically, A Link to the Past on the Super Nintendo.

The Metroid and Castlevania games have also had a big impact on myself and the games I create.

How long did you spend in development? Could you walk me through the timeline for the game, all the way from the conception of the idea to the final marketing of the game a few months ago? What software and tools did you use?

Diehard Dungeon has taken about two years on and off to create. Originally, it was a very simple hack and slash dungeon crawler with no real purpose other than to be as gory as possible. This was at a time when the partnership had just dissolved and I was very disillusioned with game development, but I couldn’t bring myself to release what I knew was a very sub-standard game and so adopted an all or nothing approach.

As far as marketing is concerned, I haven’t really done any at all other than upload a couple of YouTube videos and post on a couple of forums.

Being included in the Indie Uprising III promotion (http://indiegames-uprising.com) has been awesome! All of my fellow uprising developers are very supportive of each other.

I’ve also recently been informed that Diehard Dungeon is a top 20 finalist in Microsoft’s Dream Build Play competition, which I’m over the moon about.

For the tools, I use XNA and Visual C#.NET for the programming, Photoshop for all of the art, Adobe Soundbooth for recording myself making silly sound effects, and Magix Music Maker for the music.

Have you in the past, or do you currently have plans to work in any other platform?  What made you decide to develop for XBLIG?

I’ve ported Vampire Rage to Windows Phone 7 and plan to release Diehard Dungeon and all future games for the PC and possibly other platforms.

XBLIG was a logical choice really. At the time of creating Pyromanic – Solo, the XBLIG service was new and exciting for a lot of developers interested in making games for the Xbox 360, and reaching a potentially massive audience through Xbox Live!

A game’s soundtrack can make or break a game, tell us how you selected yours. Did you produce in house, team up with a music producer or simply purchase royalty free music?

All of the short pieces of music are created by myself, but most of the music used for Diehard Dungeon is freeware and was created by DST from www.nosoapradio.us.

If there was one thing you could improve on, or simply do differently in development what would it be?

I’m still constantly learning many of the subtleties involved with games development. The old saying, “if I knew then what I know now” definitely applies here. I must have redone the art in Diehard Dungeon about three times over now as my Photoshop pixel art skills have increased.

I would like to be good enough at composing the music to create an entire game’s soundtrack myself.

How did you go about deciding on the name for your game and why did you end up with the title you have?  Were there any rejected titles that didn’t make the cut?

I tend to spend an inordinate amount of time on naming anything, and this case was no different. I stuck with a working title of Dungeon of Despair for a long time, but didn’t feel that it had the required impact and wasn’t particularly memorable. I think Diehard Dungeon ticks both of those boxes.

Many gamers dream of making their own games, what advice would you give someone hoping to make the jump from gamer to developer?

Decide what area of game development you would like to concentrate on; programming, art, music, design or a jack of all trades like myself and start small. I made the mistake many, many times of biting off  more than I could chew with regards to the scope of a project. But you learn as you go along.

The XBLIG market has had mixed results so far in its existence. What do you believe could make it better? What do you believe could improve the service as a whole, from designer to consumer?

Truthfully, not a whole lot at this point. Many serious developers have become disheartened with XBLIG as a way of generating an income and have moved on to greener pastures. The success of Diehard Dungeon will determine whether I continue creating games for the service, myself.

The Indie Uprising will definitely help with awareness of XBLIGs, and Microsoft have very graciously supported the previous Uprisings and will hopefully do the same again this time. There are many great games that the vast majority of Xbox Live! gamers are completely unaware of and that’s a huge shame.

Many suggestions have been put forward over the years, from adding achievement points to including some sort of quality control, but they bring many more complications that would make their inclusion very unlikely.

What can fans of your game(s) expect in the not too distant future?

Downloadable content for Diehard Dungeon, and as long as sales of the game are reasonable, a lot of it!

There are many features that had to be cut from version 1.0 of the game due to time constraints. As far as future games are concerned, I’m in the early design stages of a game that will build upon the foundations set by Diehard Dungeon.

What game in the Indie Uprising are you most excited to play (besides your own of course)?

I’ve had the privilege of playing many games in the uprising so far and would gladly play each of them again, but if I had to pick one it would be Gateways!  As I’m a big fan of Metroidvania’s.

Anything else you would like to say?

 Thank you for taking an interest in me and my game.

 

We would like to thank Toby and Tricktale Games once again for taking the time to answer our questions!  Stay up to date on all of our coverage of the Indie Game Uprising III by bookmarking the following page: CLICK HERE.  CBR will be providing previews, developer profiles, interviews and of course reviews for every game involved in the Uprising. And, as always, support indie developers!

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About Tristan Rendo

I’ve made movies, written and performed music, and in January of 2011 got bored and started the awesome gaming site you see before you. My gaming roots began with the original NES, and endless hours spent spilling quarters into machines at the local arcade. I have a personal collection of over 200 Nintendo 64 games, and for many years it was the only system I owned. I re-entered the modern generation of gaming consoles when I decided to purchase a 360. I typically prefer the single player experience of games, so I’m usually playing through some single-player campaign, but can occasionally be found doing some damage in Halo Reach.